“Smitherqueens, a Jamboree,” a review

Zane Razzaq ’15
Arts Editor

Last Friday, there were plenty of events for the Smith students who were trying to take advantage of the time before finals, from the Queerceanera party put on by Nosotros and the Peer Sexuality Educators to the Jordan House party. Among the events was an end-of-the-semester concert show featuring one of the oldest all-female a cappella groups in America, the Smithereens. “SmitherQueens, a Jamboree,” held in Helen Hills Hills Chapel on April 12, had, as promised on the Facebook event’s page, “awesome music, witty banter, and queenly drama.”

The Smithereens opened their show with “Here Comes the Smithereens.” This song has been in their repertoire since the group’s founding in 1945. Some of their songs matched this traditional a cappella sound and understated quality, like “Let’s Get it On” by Marvin Gaye and “All Things Go” by Sufjan Stevens. These songs were performed alongside more contemporary songs, like “High and Dry” by Radiohead and “Fly” by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna.

Throughout the first half of the show, the members of the Smithereens were in costumes pertaining to the “queen” theme. These included fairy costumes, fake mustaches and pink wigs. They each had an alter ego that matched the costume, like “Queen Mattress,” “Queen Bee,” “Dairy Queen,” “Queen of Hearts,” “Cleopatra” and “Queen of England.” At one point, two Smithereens dressed as queen chess pieces acted out a checkmate scene.

“When we’re planning our jam, some of our main goals are to showcase the hard work we’ve done over the semester and to have fun together on stage,” said Smithereen member Alice Howe ’13. “In practice, that means we like to perform a balance of old favorites and new material and [to find] an excuse to wear ridiculous costumes.”

In the middle of the show, the Smithereens introduced the UMass Dynamics, UMass’ premier co-ed a capella group, who then took the stage. They started their set with “What Goes Around . . .  Comes Around” by Justin Timberlake, with Sam Fountain performing the solo. Throughout the song, they incorporated the chorus from “Cry Me a River.” During the outro, amidst clapping and stomping, one of the Dynamics began to beatbox.

After performing “Candy Man” by Christina Aguilera, the UMass Dynamics went on to perform a medley of Queen songs, in keeping with the “queen” theme. This included “We Will Rock You,” “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” “Somebody to Love” and “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

Eventually the Smithereens came back to perform the last set of the night. One of the more memorable songs performed at this point of the show was “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift; the Smithereen version was arranged by Julia Nimchuk ’15 and sung by Shealyn Berube ’15.

“This is the first a cappella event I’ve ever gone to in a while, and I really enjoyed it!” Rachel Walsh ’14 said. “I loved the Taylor Swift song; their performance gave the song a totally different vibe than the original. And I loved how none of the members were taking themselves too seriously. I really think that made the show successful.”

 

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